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Demand for testing spikes in Hilo following holiday weekend

More than 100 cars wound through the parking lot at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo Wednesday afternoon as drivers and passengers sought COVID-19 tests.

Those pulling into the parking lot just before 5 p.m. waited nearly 90 minutes to be tested.

In collaboration with Hawaii County, S&G Labs offers drive-up testing there each Wednesday from 3-6 p.m.

Crystal Nobriga, vice president of communications for the Kona-based laboratory, said there was a significant increase in the demand for testing because of travel associated with the recent Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

According to Nobringa, 301 people were tested at the civic Wednesday, up from 189 people the Wednesday prior.

“(On Wednesday), 75% of the people that came through were testing for travel-related purposes, (and a) majority of those were post-travel,” she said. “The increase is an indication to us that people who may have traveled over the holiday weekend are either testing out of an abundance of caution, or simply to get out of quarantine, which is great for the safety of the community.”

Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno said the county is concerned about the impact of Thanksgiving and the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holidays on the county’s COVID-19 counts.

Already a week out from Thanksgiving, Magno said the incubation period of the virus is 14 days, which means more cases could surface in the next week.

The county, he said, is watching the situation, as well as keeping tabs on virus activity nationwide, because travelers are still arriving to visit or return to the islands.

“So, we’re monitoring that, trying to stay ahead of any infections that start happening on the island or any clusters that happen.”

In addition to Wednesday’s testing at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, S&G Labs also offers testing from 5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 2-4 p.m Saturday and Sunday at 75-240 Nani Kailua Dr., Ste. 2; 4-5 p.m. Monday and Friday at Big Island Pain Center, 32 Ululani St., in Hilo; and from 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.

Free drive-through COVID-19 testing will continue to be provided through the week at other sites around the county, including: 1-5 p.m. Saturday at Keaau High School in Keaau and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kailua-Kona.

Walk-up testing will be available 10 a.m.-2 p.m. today at Kahuku Park in Ocean View.

No insurance is necessary to be tested, and there is no co-pay. Bring a driver’s license and insurance card if you have one.

Those seeking testing should wear a face covering at all times and observe social distancing.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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